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Israeli settlers storm Al-Aqsa to perform religious prayers

Sept. 16, 2018 2:18 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 17, 2018 4:07 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Dozens of Israeli settlers along with heavily armed Israeli forces stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem on Sunday on the eve of the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur.

A Ma'an reporter said that dozens of Israeli settlers stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound through the Moroccan Gate, in the form of large consecutive groups, on the occasion of Jewish holidays.

Local sources confirmed that Israeli settlers toured the compound and performed religious Jewish prayers under the protection of Israeli forces.

Meanwhile, large numbers of Israeli police were deployed across the compound to secure the area.

Sources added that Israeli settlers called on others through social media to increase intrusions into the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound during Jewish holidays, calling it “holiday of forgiveness and of the throne.”

The Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, which sits just above the Western Wall plaza, houses both the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosque. The third holiest site in Islam, it is also venerated as Judaism's most holy place, as it sits where Jews believe the First and Second Temples once stood.

While Jewish visitation is permitted to the compound, non-Muslim worship at Al-Aqsa is prohibited according to an agreement signed between Israel and the Jordanian government after Israel’s illegal occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967.

Despite the agreement with Jordan -- which is the custodian of Al-Aqsa -- Israeli authorities regularly allow Jewish visitors to enter the site, often under armed guard. Such visits are typically made by right-wingers attempting to unsettle the status quo at the site, and coincide with restrictions on Palestinian access, including bans on entrance and detentions.

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